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MARCH IS NATIONAL KIDNEY MONTH

MARCH IS NATIONAL KIDNEY MONTH

Extra steps you can take to help those in your care

Currently, one in three American adults is at risk for kidney disease, and one of the biggest risk factors for developing kidney disease is being age 60 or older. Although there are other risk factors for developing kidney disease, such as having diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history, the simple fact is that as we age, so do our kidneys. If you have senior patients in your care, kidney education and screening can be potentially lifesaving.

Since kidney disease often has no symptoms, it can advance rapidly and remain undetected if a concerted effort to regularly check kidney function is not made. Via a simple urine test, kidney disease or kidney function abnormalities can be discovered, which can help you to take early steps to slow the disease’s progression. As the kidneys are also responsible for some hormone production and regulation, disease can affect other organs in the body, blood cell count quality, and bone health. 

Although age is one of the largest risk factors for kidney disease, there are many high-risk populations that are also susceptible. Diabetes is the number one cause of kidney disease and high blood pressure is second leading cause according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, one in three older adults with diabetes and one in five with high blood pressure have kidney disease.

Additionally, some of your patients may be members of ethnic and racial groups that are considered to be at higher risk, according to the CDC. African Americans are nearly three times more likely to be diagnosed with kidney failure compared to Caucasians. Other high-risk groups include Hispanics, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans.

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) urges everyone over the age of 60 to be screened for kidney disease annually. Their recommendation is for two simple tests. The first is a urine test that checks for protein in the urine. NKF also recommends an annual test for kidney function. Both are routine screenings, and both can potentially detect an abnormality before it’s too late.

Your senior patients may be concerned about the costs of screening, testing, and treating kidney disease. Fortunately, Medicare helps cover many of the expenses that may be associated with testing and treatment. Medicare Part B helps pay for important services like office visits and dialysis for those with kidney failure. For patients who receive a kidney transplant, Medicare Part D can help cover the cost of immunosuppressant drugs. In fact, immunosuppressants to prevent organ rejection for transplant patients are one of the six protected classes of medicine under Part D, which means Part D plans are required to cover “all or substantially all” drugs that fall under that therapeutic class.

Through education and reassurance about simplicity of testing, you can help seniors in your care with early detection and more favorable lifesaving outcomes.As a care provider for older adults, you understand the challenges they face every day. If one of your elderly patients is in need of specialized care at a senior community, consider making a referral to your local professional at Oasis Senior Advisors. At Oasis, we specialize in finding the right place to match not only a senior’s medical needs, but their lifestyle, budget needs, and more. Learn more at www.oasissenioradvisors.com or by calling (888) 455-5838.